Priest warns parishioners to leave if church is being robbed

St Patrick's Killygordon
Seamus McKinney

A PRIEST in Donegal has warned parishioners to "leave the church immediately" if they suspect that thieves are trying to steal from candle shrine boxes.

Fr Francis Lynch was speaking after thieves targeted St Patrick’s Church at Killygordon, between Strabane and Ballybofey, for the third time.

The Donegal curate said he feared his parishioners could become targets.

Fr Lynch said thieves escaped with an undisclosed amount in cash after stealing candle donations on Saturday. He said many parishioners, but mostly women, visit the church to light candles and say prayers after visiting the adjoining cemetery.

“I would be afraid that some innocent woman going in there may be assaulted,” Fr Lynch said.

He said the recent thefts were, not just an attack on the church, but also on the people of the parish.

“I say to everyone who goes into church now to light candles ‘Be vigilant and if you see anything suspicious, if you think there’s anything going on, leave the church immediately.

“I’m saying if you are up at the front of the church praying and you hear them rattling at the back, don’t turn around, just leave,’" he said.

Fr Lynch said that if the thefts continued, he feared he might have to close the church outside of Mass times.

He told Donegal’s Highland Radio: “This has happened three times this year now. I want everyone to be alert, especially women because they are the major candle-lighters.”

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